Anthony Marr's MARR-PLAN to end wild horse roundup, captivity & slaughter once & for all.
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AN UNPRECEDENTED PROBLEM REQUIRES AN UNPRECEDENTED SOLUTION
by Anthony Marr
"Congress is directing the Bureau of Land Management to go back to the drawing board and come up with solutions to control growing wild horse and burro herds..." - by Scott Streater, E&E News, dated Feb. 14, 2019, in AmericanWildHorseCampaign.org
This indicates that neither Congress nor the BLM has any idea regarding what such a solution might be like, or even whether it exists at all. What is obvious is that the longer we don't take decisive action and carry on along the same track that has brought us to this critical point to begin with, the worse the CRISIS is going to get. Congress throwing more money at the BLM (from $75 million in 2018 to $80.6 million in 2019) will help incrementally but not fundamentally, in the short-run but not the long term - as long as BLM does not commit itself to a totally new strategy which it currently does not appear to have. A fundamental change in strategy is what is desperately needed.
Coincidentally, on that very same day, Feb. 14, 2019, award-winning activist and world recognized wildlife preservationist Anthony Marr (e.g. Bengal tiger, Grizzly bear, Harp seal, Bottlenose dolphin, Grey whale, whaling, trophy hunting, shark-fin, etc.), launched the following new website
as his Valentine's gift to our beloved wild horse, in which is presented exactly such an innovative, outside-the-box "unprecedented solution".
It was not until May, 2019, that the HSUS-ASPCA-RTF plan was unveiled, which in fact was secretly presented to the BLM in 2018. Upon viewing, it was at once obvious that there was nothing unprecedented about it. But first,
The UNPRECEDENTED PROBLEM
1. The on range wild horse population (herein including burro population) in 1971 was given by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as ~26,000, in 2014 it was ~35,000; and in 2018 it was ~82,000.
2. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the general formula for population growth in the absence of predators (cougar and horse habitats seldom overlapping, and evidence of wolf depredation on horses being "non-existent"), is a net positive of 15-20% per annum, mortality rate included, or a doubling every 4-5 years.
3. The Appropriate Management Level (AML - roughly meaning Carrying Capacity) of the wild horse on all BLM land, based on the cattle population, was set, by the BLM, at 26,600 in 1971 with the passage of the [Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act], when the then wild horse poputation was reported as ~26,000. The close proximity of these two numbers raised suspicion.
4. Given the no-kill policy under the 1971 WFRHBA act, the BLM has been rounding up excess horses (over the 26,600 limit) and placing them into holding facilities which, by 2017, had a total capacity of ~45,000, 12,000 in the more expensive corral-type short-term holding facilities, and another ~33,000 in less expensive, longer-term holding pastures, mostly in non-wild-horse states.
5. The BLM has tried to adopt out as many captive horses as possible as a solution to solve the wild horse population problem, but except for some early success, only about 7% of the captive horses were adopted annually. Thus, the captive population increases year after year.
6. All in all, towards 2018, some 90% of the BLM budget was consumed by the cost of rounding-up the horses (by helicopter), transporting them to the facilities, and holding, feeding and caring for them indefinitely, leaving only 1% for on range birth control work which in fact should be the core of its strategy.
7. This procrastinative "kicking the can down the road" approach of stashing excess horses in holding facilities has worked for as long as there was still vacancy at the holding facilities. But the BLM's budget, though substantial at $80 million for 2019, has its limits as to how many more holding facilities can be built and run, and how much more new pasture remains to be discovered. In 2018, everything came to a head - no more holding facilities could be built, no more pastures could be discovered, and the existing holding facilities finally declared full capacity. NO VACANCY signs went up, and the can, which had grown bigger and heavier with every new kick, finally hit the wall.
8. Meanwhile, in 2019, the on range horse population, according to the BLM, has increased to over 90,000, meaning, ~65,000 over the 26,600 limit. By BLM's own formula, these 65,000 excess horses are to be rounded-up, but then, the long dreaded problem arises as to where to put them - except the slaughterhouse. This is the 2019 reality. If procrastinated upon, 2020 will get worse, and 2021 even more so.
THE UNPRECEDENTED SOLUTION (condensed)
In April 2019, BLM released the so-called "Path Forward" plan put together by the HSUS, SPCA, Return to Freedom and some 50 "stakeholder" including principally ranching and mining interests, which started with."10-20,000 horses to be removed from the range per year...".
Stop right there. Any plan requiring roundup as part of its MO puts it automatically into the "OBSOLETE UPON INCEPTION" category. Any "new" plan based on and derived from the same old roundup-track that has led us to the current crisis to begin with, is just a repackaged version of the old plan that did not work, an extension-in-disguise of an obsolete practice - the annual roundup.
In contrast, the 5-part plan advanced by Anthony Marr in February 2019 won't remove a single horse, and further will end roundup and slaughter once and for all, while bringing BLM a windfall of over $60 million:
1. BLM to remove ~250,000 head of CATTLE (NOT HORSE) from the range, from the current total of ~2 million (-12%); and raise the grazing fee by 12% to offset the revenue loss.
2. BLM to transfer the vacated allotments to the horse (roughly equating 2 cows to 1 horse assuming ~6 months' grazing for the cows), thus raising the AML for the HORSE from the current 26,600 by 125,000 to ~150,000 (+600%).
3. BLM to keep all current on-range horses (~100,000 in 2020) on the range, i.e. end all roundup, and further, release all current captive horses (~47,000, many already sterilized or contracepted) back on to the range. The resulting total population will be ~145,000, or ~5,000 below the new AML of 150,000.
4. BLM to end all roundup and close most holding facilities, short and long term, thus releasing >$60 million from its $80 million annual budget for on range field work, such as mild maintenance-contraception to keep the total population below the new AML at all times, as well as on habitat protection and restoration. It is to be understood that the said contraception shall be humane, temporary and reversible; permanent sterilization by any means shall not be employed under any circumstance anywhere within the MARR PLAN.
5. BLM has the option of moving a part of the displaced cattle into the vacated holding pastures, which offer richer grazing than the semi-desert environment from which they have been removed.
This is an out-of-the-box solution, not subjected to inside-the-box constrains. It is understood that a proposal of a deeply transformative nature won't work within the confines and methodologies of the old (extant) system, including e.g. the structure of the federal grazing program. If what we want is a stable long term solution, one innately without roundup and slaughter, we will have to more than totally revamp the entire current system, but to replace it with a whole new system from a blank slate. So, opposition that it does not "jibe" with the old system is irrelevant. This is something to be created from scratch, not some derivative of an obsolete system that has never worked.
There is no doubt that it will take an enormous effort to achieve this transformation, but once done, all current problems will be solved once and for all, and roundup and slaughter will be things of the past.
If you prefer Anthony Marr's solution, please sign and share this petition
In the longer run, when veganism impacts beef consumption more and more and in a big way, the land will gradually return to its rightful owner - the wild horse.
Update, March 21, 2019: Today, Congress and BLM issued a statement to reaffirm their long standing no-kill policy (after the 2018 NO-VACANCY-at-folding-facilities crisis, which would necessitate mass slaughter), without any change in BLM's basic strategy. Since you have reached this point of this presentation, you must realize that this is just another round of kicking the can down the road, where the can gets heavier with every succeeding round. The next round, instead of 70,000 "excess" horses, there'll be well over 100,000 as soon as 2020. And the question will remain: Where do they intend to put the "excess" horses?
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